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United States Patent 7,987,904
Rose August 2, 2011

Sealed well cellar

Abstract

A well cellar system includes a substantially planar base plate, the base defining an aperture sized to receive a conductor pipe. The planar base plate is an integral structural member which, in conjunction with the seal between the base plate and the wall and the riser and the conductor, are sufficiently robust to support the weight of the conductor pipe and its auxiliary equipment. The sealed well cellar is afforded with a laterally extending flange which serves as an anti-buoyancy anchor. A anti-buoyancy port allows the upward floatation pressure to be balanced out by water pressure within the cellar during placement to avoid floatation. A sacrificial anode housing is provided with a removable lid and holes for allowing passage of electrolyte. Although the preferred embodiments of sealed well cellars are metal and plastic, a cementaceous embodiment is also envisioned.


Inventors: Rose; James A. (Anchorage, AK)
Appl. No.: 12/214,166
Filed: June 17, 2008


Related U.S. Patent Documents

Application NumberFiling DatePatent NumberIssue Date
11799832May., 2007
11338912Jan., 20067637692

Current U.S. Class: 166/96.1 ; 166/381; 166/75.11; 166/81.1; 220/484; 405/229; 52/220.8; 52/302.1
Current International Class: E21B 19/00 (20060101)
Field of Search: 166/85.2,81.1,96.1,75.11,381 405/229 52/220.8,302.5,302.1 220/565,567.1,484

References Cited

U.S. Patent Documents
4125164 November 1978 Terry
4335740 June 1982 Boley
5535556 July 1996 Hughes, Jr.
2007/0031190 February 2007 Meyers
Primary Examiner: Thompson; Kenneth
Assistant Examiner: Andrish; Sean
Attorney, Agent or Firm: Thomson; Richard K

Parent Case Text



TECHNICAL FIELD

This invention relates to well sites, and more particularly to well cellars.

BACKGROUND

This application is a continuation-in-part of application Ser. No. 11/799,832 filed May 2, 2007 which is a continuation-in-part of application Ser. No. 11/338,912 filed Jan. 23, 2006 now U.S. Pat. No. 7,637,692. In the field of oil and gas exploration/production, a well cellar can be positioned below ground level underneath a drilling rig. Such well cellars may contain equipment such as blow out preventers, valves, and other equipment associated with drilling, completion and other well operations. The walls of the well cellar provide structural support to prevent collapse of the surrounding earth onto the equipment. The well conductor pipe extends through the well cellar into the underlying subterranean formation. During drilling, completion and other well operations, fluids from the drilling rig and production equipment, such as lubricants, drilling mud, completion fluids, and oil, can leak or spill into and out of the well cellar. These spills can create ecological problems, polluting soil samples as well as surface and subsurface aqueous sources. Such corrupted soil areas must be remediated before a well is capped, adding expense to taking an under-producing well off-line.
Claims



I claim:

1. A well cellar with a load-bearing and sealing concrete floor comprising a) first outer and second inner annular cement retainers extending about a peripheral portion of said well cellar forming a receiver; b) at least one gasket lying in a bottom portion of said receiver formed by said first and second annular cement retainers; c) a conductor-receiving riser with a laterally extending baffle plate attached thereto; d) a pre-fabricated reinforcement grid extending between said inner cement retainer and said riser, said pre-fabricated grid being made of rebar; e) a culvert pipe having a lower edge portion received in said receiver; f) poured concrete cementing said cylindrical culvert pipe in said receiver and forming a floor for a sealed well cellar.

2. The concrete well cellar of claim 1 further comprising retainer lips formed on each of an upper edge of said first outer and an upper edge of said second inner annular cement retainers.

3. A method of installing the concrete well cellar of claim 1 around a conductor pipe, said method comprising the steps of a) excavating a hole to receive the well cellar including i) grading a bottom surface of the hole; ii) covering the bottom surface with sand and/or gravel; iii) compacting the sand and/or gravel added; b) installing a cement template with 1) the conductor-receiving riser over a conductor pipe, 2) a peripheral pipe receiver defined by said first outer and said second inner annular cement retainers, and 3) said pre-fabricated rebar grid extending there between; c) sealingly attaching the riser to the conductor pipe; d) lowering the cylindrical culvert pipe into the peripheral pipe receiver; e) tamp in the at least one gasket adjacent the lower edge of the culvert pipe between said first outer and said second inner annular cement retainers; f) pour concrete into the peripheral pipe receiver and between the pipe receiver and the conductor-receiving riser.
Description



SUMMARY

The well cellar system of the present invention includes a substantially planar base. The base defines an aperture sized to receive a conductor pipe. At least one side member is attached to the base. The at least one side member and the base defines a cavity. Seal means between the at least one side member and the base substantially prevents flow of fluids between the at least one side member and the base. An attachment between the base and the conductor pipe substantially prevents flow of fluid between the conductor pipe and the base. This sealed well cellar eliminates soil and water pollution which is common with existing systems.

A first aspect of the present invention includes a sealed well cellar comprising a) an integral structural base plate, the base plate having an opening therein for receiving a conductor being load-bearing; b) a vertically extending side wall formed integrally with the base plate to ensure sealing between the vertically extending side wall and the base plate; c) a riser positioned in the opening in the base plate; d) first sealing means between the base plate and the riser preventing fluid flow between the base plate and the riser; e) second sealing means between the riser and the conductor preventing fluid flow between the riser and the conductor; whereby the first and second seal means have sufficient structural integrity to transfer a weight of the conductor and associated drilling equipment to the integral structural base plate. In one preferred embodiment, the second seal means comprises a weld between the riser and the conductor. Preferably, the weld is configured such that 100% of the weld does not lie in any single horizontal cross section. One way to accomplish that is to make the upper edge of the riser beveled. Another is to make it scalloped. It is envisioned that the one of the riser and the conductor may be crimped to swage one toward the other.

The well cellar can be formed with a laterally extending flange portion of the integral structural base plate serving as an anchor to the well cellar to counteract buoyancy effects due to ground water and prevent the well cellar from experiencing upward floatation forces. Alternatively, or in addition, the sidewall of the well cellar may be provided with an anti-buoyancy port formed in a bottom portion, a removable plug having means to secure the removable plug in the anti-buoyancy port. A guard shield may be positioned inside the vertical wall over the anti-buoyancy port preventing egress of fluid-borne solids. Another feature of the well cellar of the present invention is the provision of a housing positioned on a portion of the vertical wall for attaching a replaceable sacrificial anode, the housing having a removable lid and means to secure the replaceable sacrificial anode. An annular support for a work platform may be positioned within the well cellar attached to the vertical wall below grade at a point just above a position which would create an OSHA-defined confined space entry. This avoids compliance with a number of safety factors required for such a confined space.

Conventional well cellars often have at least one additional hole, known as a mouse hole or rat hole to accommodate various auxiliary equipment. Given that the well cellar is now sealed, special provision must be made to accommodate the auxiliary equipment without compromising the seal. In the present embodiment, at least one additional hole is provided in one of the base plate and the side wall for accommodating the auxiliary equipment, and sealing means for the at least one additional hole is provided for preventing fluid flow between the base and the auxiliary equipment. This seal may include a riser section, a gasket and compression means to sealingly engage the gasket between the riser section and the piece of auxiliary equipment. The sealing means may additionally include a threaded portion on an external portion of the riser section and an internally threaded nut which engages the threaded portion and compresses the gasket.

Another feature of the invention comprises a well cellar with a load-bearing and sealing concrete floor comprising a) first outer and second inner annular cement retainers extending about a peripheral portion of the well cellar forming a receiver; b) at least one gasket lying in a bottom portion of the receiver formed by the first and second annular cement retainers; c) a conductor-receiving riser with a laterally extending baffle plate attached thereto; d) a pre-fabricated reinforcement grid extending between the inner cement retainer and the riser, the pre-fabricated grid being made of rebar; e) a culvert pipe having a lower edge portion received in the receiver; f) poured concrete cementing the cylindrical culvert pipe in the receiver and forming a floor for a sealed well cellar. The concrete well cellar further includes retainer lips formed on each of an upper edge of the first outer and the second inner annular cement retainers to prevent the cement annulus from climbing out of the retainer rings.

A final aspect of the invention comprises a method of installing a sealed cement well cellar around a conductor pipe, including the steps of a) excavating a hole to receive the well cellar including i) grading a bottom surface of the hole; ii) covering the bottom surface with sand and/or gravel; iii) compacting the sand and/or gravel added; b) installing a cement template with 1) a conductor-receiving riser over a conductor pipe, 2) a peripheral pipe receiver; c) sealingly attaching the riser to the conductor pipe; d) lowering a cylindrical culvert pipe into the peripheral pipe receiver; e) tamping in at least one gasket adjacent a lower edge of the culvert pipe; f) pouring concrete into the peripheral pipe receiver and between the pipe receiver and the conductor-receiving riser.

The details of one or more embodiments of the invention are set forth in the accompanying drawings and the description below. Other features, objects, and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the description and drawings, and from the claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

The preferred embodiments are described in conjunction with the following drawings in which like reference numerals in the various figures indicate like elements. The drawings are not to scale as certain features are exaggerated for clarity of illustration.

FIG. 1 is a schematic side view of a well cellar system in use;

FIG. 2 is a detail cross-sectional view of an alternate well cellar system;

FIG. 3 is a schematic side view of an alternate well cellar system;

FIG. 4A is a schematic side view of a third embodiment featuring an extension ring;

FIG. 4B is a perspective side view of the extension ring shown in FIG. 4A;

FIG. 5 is a schematic side view of a fourth embodiment;

FIG. 6A is a cross-sectional side view of a fifth embodiment as seen along 6A-6A in FIG. 6B;

FIG. 6B is a top view of the base plate utilized in the FIG. 6A embodiment;

FIG. 7A is a schematic side view of one half of a sixth embodiment;

FIG. 7B is a top view of the sixth embodiment depicted in FIG. 7A;

FIG. 8A a partial sectional side view of a seventh embodiment depicting a telescoping extension ring;

FIG. 8B is a partial sectional side view showing the extension ring in the collapsed position;

FIG. 8C is a partial sectional side view showing the extension ring in the extended position;

FIG. 9A is a cross-sectional side view of an eighth embodiment;

FIG. 9B is a side view of a variation of the eighth embodiment comprising a ninth embodiment;

FIG. 10 is a schematic side view depicting another feature of the eighth embodiment;

FIG. 11 is a schematic side view depicting a tenth embodiment;

FIG. 12A is a top plan view of a template used in an eleventh embodiment; and,

FIG. 12B is a cross-sectional side view of the eleventh embodiment employing the template shown in FIG. 12A.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring to FIG. 1, a well cellar system 10 includes a substantially planar base 12 attached to side members or walls 14. Well cellar system 10 can be disposed in an excavation where soil is removed from the ground around the well site. Walls 14 are substantially inflexible to provide structural support to prevent collapse of the surrounding earth into cavity 15 defined by base plate 12 and walls 14. An aperture 16 which extends through base plate 12 receives conductor pipe 18. In this instance, conductor pipe 18 is attached to piping 22 which can be, for example, diverter piping. In some instances, valves, blow out preventers, and other equipment associated with drilling and/or completion operations are disposed in cavity 15. Some embodiments include a riser 24 attached to base plate 12 around aperture 16 that extends substantially concentrically around conductor pipe 18. The riser 24 is preferably attached to and seals to the conductor pipe 18. The riser 24 or conductor pipe 18 may be crimped to facilitate the sealing engagement between the two. In this and the other embodiments depicted herein, the base plate 12 is a structural base plate capable of supporting the weight of the conductor pipe and the associated auxiliary equipment used in the drilling and completion operations.

As used herein, the term conductor pipe is used to indicate a conductor pipe, riser pipe, surface casing, or other tubular member installed at or about the ground surface. As is discussed in more detail below, the seal between base plate 12 and walls 14 prevents or substantially prevents the flow of fluids between the at least one side member 14 and the base plate 12. Likewise, the seal between the base plate 12 and the conductor 18 prevents or substantially prevents the flow of fluids between the conductor pipe 18 and base plate 12. Fluids 17 from drilling rig 20, such as lubricants, drilling mud, stimulation fluids, and oil, can leak or spill into cavity 15. Sealing or substantially sealing the flow of such fluids out of cavity 15 can limit leakage into and contamination of the earth adjacent cavity 15. Avoiding this contamination eliminates costly cleanup of soil and water surrounding the site. In addition to the base plate 12 being a structural member, it is important that the first seal between base plate 12 and walls 14 and second seal between the riser 24 and conductor pipe 18 be sufficiently robust to hold up under the loading when the weight of conductor pipe 18 and its associated auxiliary equipment is supported by sealed well cellar 10.

In some instances, a fluid impermeable liner 26 is attached to walls 14 and extends radially outward and laterally across the ground surface 28. Liner 26 may be clamped (see hoop-shaped clamp 27, FIG. 2) to the perimeter of walls 14. In some instances, a sealing compound, glue or gasket can be used to ensure a seal between liner 26 and walls 14. A berm 30 can be placed around the outer edges of impermeable liner 26 to contain fluids leaking onto the impermeable liner. Impermeable liner 26 can be manufactured of polymer sheet materials. In some instances, ground surface 28 and impermeable liner 26 are sloped towards cavity 15. This tends to direct fluids leaking onto impermeable liner 26 to cavity 15 which can act as a sump for the collection of the fluids. Berm 30 can be an integral part of impermeable liner 26. In some instances, berm 30 is sealed to liner 26 to prevent leakage between the berm 30 and the liner 26.

For some applications, a fluid level sensor can be installed to monitor the level of fluids in cavity 15. In this instance, a high level alarm sensor switch 32 is mounted on wall 14 and triggered when contacted by fluids in cavity 15. A float sensor could alternatively be used. Other fluid level sensors include, for example, a pressure based sensor that monitors the level of fluids in cavity 15 on an ongoing basis (as opposed to high level alarm sensor switch 32 which is only activated when the fluids in the cavity reach a pre-set level). Data from such sensors can be used as input for controllers operating appropriate pumps (not shown) that can be installed to remove fluids from cavity 15. Such pumps can be permanently installed or temporarily installed as needed.

Padeyes 34 are mounted on walls 14. Padeyes 34 can be used in removal of well cellar system 10 or components thereof from the surrounding earth after the well cellar system is no longer desired, for example by attaching an appropriate piece of heavy machinery such as, for example, a backhoe to padeyes 34 and simply pulling walls 14 (or the entire well cellar system 10) out of the earth. Padeyes 34 may also be used during installation of cellar 10 for assisting in placing the cellar 10 into the cavity in the earth, holding upright during back-filling, etc.

Referring to FIG. 2, cavity 15 has a width W.sub.1. As used herein, width W.sub.1 is the diameter of the pipe when the walls 14 are formed by a pipe. In some instances, a width W.sub.1 measured at base 12 is smaller than a width W.sub.2 measured at the open end of cavity, so that the walls 14 slope inward toward the base 12. The inwardly sloping walls 14 aid in removing the well cellar system 10 from the earth, because when the well cellar system 10 is lifted vertically up from the excavation, the walls 14 come out of contact with the surrounding earth. In this embodiment, walls 14 are formed with a width (diameter) W.sub.2 of about 60 inches (152.4 cm) at the open end of the cavity and a width (diameter) W.sub.1 of about 58 inches (147.3 cm) at the base 12. Other dimensions of W.sub.1 and W.sub.2, as well as W.sub.1 and W.sub.2 being equal, are within the scope of the invention. For example, in areas subject to permafrost and thawing, it may be desirable for W.sub.1 and W.sub.2 to be equal to prevent post jacking of the well cellar system 10.

As noted above, FIG. 2 depicts walls 14 formed by a section of pipe attached to base 12, the walls and base defining a cylindrical or substantially cylindrical cavity 15. Appropriate pipe includes, for example, corrugated culvert pipe. In other embodiments, walls 14 can be rectangular sheets attached to base 12, the walls and base defining a cavity with a square, rectangular, or other polygonal footprint. Similarly, base 12 and walls 14 can be formed of materials including, for example, steel, aluminum, polymer, polymer reinforced composite, and other materials that provide the necessary structural support and impermeability. It is contemplated that the best mode could take the form of a molded plastic barrel with an opening 16 with means to seal base 12 to the conductor pipe 18.

In some embodiments, walls 14 include a flange 36 extending radially inward from an edge of walls 14 adjacent base 12. A gasket 38 is disposed between base 12 and flange 36 with both the flange and the gasket extending substantially around the outer perimeter of the base. The gasket 38 seals or substantially seals walls 14 to base 12. In other embodiments, flange 36 and gasket 38 are replaced by an alternate sealing mechanism such as, for example, a perimeter weld or a bead of polymer sealant. In some embodiments, walls 14 are bolted to base 12 using bolts 40 that extend through flange 36 into the base 12. Bolts 40 may optionally be configured to fail (i.e., be frangible) thus allowing the detachment of walls 14 from base 12 to leave base 12 in place when wall 14 and other components of the well cellar system 10 are removed from the excavation. Higher strength bolts 40 may be included together with the frangible bolts 40 to support base 12 during installation. After installation, the higher strength bolts 40 or their respective nuts may be removed, so that walls 14 and base 12 are attached only by the frangible bolts 40.

In some embodiments, riser 24 is sealingly attached by welding, gluing or other mechanical attachment to affix it to conductor pipe 18. Riser 24 can attach to the conductor pipe 18 in other manners. For example, riser 24 can include riser walls 42 extending around the aperture substantially perpendicular to base 12 and a riser collar 44. Riser collar 44 includes a gasket ring 46, a slip segment ring 48, and a cover ring 50 which are annular in shape and sized to receive conductor pipe 18. Gasket ring 46, slip segment ring 48, and cover ring 50 are bolted, clamped or otherwise, held together.

Gasket ring 46 includes a shoulder which supports a ring gasket 52 in a recess that is partially defined by a surface 54 of slip segment ring adjacent the gasket ring. Wedge shaped slip segments 56 are disposed against the inner surface of slip segment ring 48 such that as the bolts holding gasket ring 46, slip segment ring 48 and cover ring 50 are tightened, slip segments 56 move radially inward to grip conductor pipe 18. Ring gasket 52 seals or substantially seals between riser 24 and conductor pipe 18 and prevents the flow of fluids out of cavity 15 into the surrounding earth even if the fluids rise above the top of the riser 24.

In another example, in some embodiments, a bradenhead, "A" section, wellhead, or starting head can be welded or otherwise affixed to base 12 or riser 24. In such embodiments, the slips and sealing functions are provided by the bradenhead, "A" section, wellhead or starting head. In another example, base 12 may omit the riser 24 and can incorporate gasket ring 46, slip segment ring 48, cover ring 50, slip segments 56 and ring gasket 52 or similar sealing and gripping mechanism. In alternate embodiments, riser 24 may exclude ring gasket 52, segment ring 48 and cover ring 50 and be welded or otherwise sealingly affixed to conductor pipe 18 after the conductor pipe is inserted through the riser and opening 16 in base 12. In alternate embodiments, base 12 may omit riser 24 be welded or otherwise sealingly affixed to conductor pipe 18. In such embodiments, the weld or other sealing material prevents the flow of fluids out of cavity 15 between the conductor pipe and well cellar system 10. In yet other embodiments, riser 24 can be sealingly affixed to conductor pipe 18 with a clamp mechanism (not shown).

As noted, riser 24 can be welded or otherwise sealingly affixed to base 12. Riser 24 can receive conductor pipe 18 to laterally and vertically support conductor pipe 18 and equipment attached thereto. Base 12 can be reinforced with I, L, C, boxed or other shaped channel or tubing to increase stiffness in and out of the plane of base 12. Gussets (not specifically shown) may be provided between riser 24 and base 12 to further increase stiffness. In many instances, it is desirable to leave an annular space between riser 24 or base 12 and conductor pipe 18 to allow for passage and/or circulation of fluids such as water, drilling mud (sometimes including cuttings), cement or other fluids during installation of the conductor pipe before the seal is made. The annular space may be subsequently sealed, for example, as provided herein.

Referring to FIG. 3, riser 24 may be omitted and a flanged fitting 58 may be provided and sealed to conductor pipe 18. Flanged fitting 58 compresses an aperture seal member 60 against base 12 to seal or substantially seal the flow of fluids out of cavity 15 between the conductor pipe and well cellar system 10. Flanged fitting 58 may be welded to conductor pipe 18 also providing a seal. Similarly, in some alternate embodiments, both flanged fitting 58 and riser 24 are omitted and conductor 18 is welded directly to base 12.

Attaching base 12 to conductor pipe 18, either directly or via riser 24, provides vertical support to conductor pipe 18 and attached equipment to reduce, and in some instances, prevent settling of conductor pipe 18 under vibration and its own weight. Further, as depicted in FIG. 3, a hoop-shaped angle iron 64 can be welded, or otherwise affixed to, interior surface of wall 14 to provide a support for a work surface which may be subsequently installed, as needed. Upper edge of wall 14 may be formed with outwardly extending flange 66 to facilitate attachment of liner 26 by bolting ring 68 thereto sandwiching liner 26. Liner 26 is only attached during drilling, and the like, and will be subsequently removed for conventional operations.

A third embodiment of the sealed well cellar of the present invention is depicted generally in FIG. 4A at 10a. One of the problems with existing well cellars is a natural outgrowth of the ability to perform their function well. Well cellars are designed to collect any fluids which are deposited around the conductor pipe 18. This would include runoff from rain and snow. Once this water is added to the well fluids contained in the well cellar, it becomes a hazardous waste which has to be pumped out of the cellar and disposed of in a prescribed manner. It would, therefore, be advantageous to minimize the amount of runoff which finds its way into the well cellar. An annular extension ring 70a is provided which can be attached to flange 66a of wall 14a. As shown in FIGS. 4A and 4B, vertical wall 72a has flanges 73a, 74a extending outwardly therefrom, flange 73a being attached by means of bolts 75a to flange 66a. A gasket can be included to ensure sealing to prevent leakage between flange 66a and 73a. Extension ring 70a will typically be formed in two halves 70a, and 70a.sub.2 to facilitate installation. Halves 70a, and 70a.sub.2 will be seam welded to ensure that there is no leakage. The configuration of extension ring 70a depicted here is by way of example only and the flanges need not be included. Extension ring 70a prevents runoff from around well cellar 10a from entering into the container formed thereby and becoming hazardous waste.

A fourth embodiment of the sealed well cellar of the present invention is depicted in FIG. 5 generally at 10b. In order to further reduce entry of rain, snow, etc., into the well cellar 10b, a rain cap 76b is provided. Rain cap 76b has a downwardly extending flange 78b which overlaps extension ring 70b. The primary surface 79b slopes downwardly away from conductor pipe 18b to permit rain water to runoff and minimize the liquid which finds its way into the well cellar 10b. Rain cap 76b can be custom built for the Christmas tree 81b with which it is used, will generally be formed of two or three pieces to facilitate its installation, and could be formed with a hinge and/or a hatch to provide access to the well cellar 10b, as it becomes necessary.

A fifth embodiment of the sealed well cellar of the present invention is depicted in FIG. 6A generally at 10c. In certain gas/oil well installations, the conductor pipe 18 is installed using a pile driving hammer. With those wells, any sealed well cellar of the first four embodiments could be installed by excavating a suitable opening around conductor pipe 18, sliding the cellar 10 there over, and welding the base plate thereto (or providing some alternative method of sealing). If backfilling is needed to fully stabilize the cellar 10 in its opening, this can be done as well. In other well installations, an oversized hole is drilled into which the conductor pipe 18 is inserted. It is for this well installation that this fifth embodiment is best suited.

Well cellar 10c has a specially configured, substantially flat base plate 12c which includes a centering ring 16c which receives conductor pipe 18c. A plurality of ribs 17c fan out from centering ring 16c and are welded at their outward extent to wall 14c. A plurality of cement ports 21c (FIG. 6B) are positioned around the periphery of centering ring 16c and extend between centering ring 16c and an inner edge 11c of flooring plate sections 12'c. Flooring plate sections 12'c which are preferably fabricated of steel plate, are welded atop the skeleton structure formed by ribs 17c and wall 14c. A portion of flooring plate 12'c has a grouting port 82c which receives port plug 84c as a closure. Riser 24c extends through and is welded to the skeletal structure formed by ribs 17c at the outer periphery of cement ports 21c. This can be done by making ribs 17c of two pieces, one two fit inside riser 24c and one outside, or by grooving the bottom edge of riser 24c to enable it to sit down on ribs 17c.

The method of installing this embodiment of sealed well cellar includes the steps of digging a hole for, and installing well cellar 10c (before or after the installation of the pipe 18c, depending on the stability of the soil); following installation of the conductor pipe 18c, cementing pipe 18c in the hole to stabilize its position by pouring cement through cement ports 21c in said substantially flat base plate 12c; sealingly attaching said well cellar 10c to the conductor pipe including closing off cement ports 21c. An annular plate 86c (which is preferably made of multiple parts to facilitate its installation) is provided for that purpose. Plate 86c will be welded to conductor pipe 18c and to an upper edge of riser 24c to close off cement ports 21c. Should the soil beneath well cellar 10c subside or shift resulting in a partial destabilization of cellar 10c, grout plug 84c can be withdrawn from grout port 82c to permit materials such as a slurry of grout or sand to be injected through the port to stabilize the well cellar 10c and prevent its failing as occurs with conventional cellars when subsidence occurs.

A sixth embodiment is depicted in FIG. 7B generally at 10d. Well cellar 10d is sectional including at least two parts for ease of installation. The inwardly directed edges of halves 10d.sub.1 and 10d.sub.2 have flanges 92d formed thereon and at least one of those flanges has a gasket 94d (FIG. 7A) attached thereto by screws 96d. By drawing down bolts 98d flanges 92d compress gasket 94d creating a seal. This sectional embodiment 10d is particularly well suited as a replacement well cellar or as a liner for an existing well cellar to convert it to a sealed well cellar.

A seventh embodiment of the sealed well cellar of the present invention is depicted in FIG. 8A generally at 10e. In this embodiment, annular extension ring 70e can be collapsed (FIG. 8B) to a position enabling well cellar 10e to collect fluids (i.e., to function in the drilling and servicing modes). When drilling/well servicing has been completed, a plurality of camming clamps 75e are attached to vertical wall 72e by bolts 77e to hold extension ring 70e in its upward or extended position (FIGS. 8A and 8C). Outwardly directed lower flange 71e compresses gasket 46e to prevent leakage through the structure of extension ring 70e.

An eighth embodiment of the sealed well cellar of the present invention is depicted in FIG. 9A generally at 10f. In this embodiment, base plate 12f is provided with a radially protruding flange 13f which serves to anchor the well cellar 10f against upward floatation forces exerted upon it by ground water. It will be understood that the backfill around the well cellar 12f will overlie protruding flange 13f and provide a retention force which will counter the upwardly directed floatation forces. Alternatively, or in addition, sidewall 14f may be equipped with an anti-buoyancy port 114f with a removable plug 115f in or near the base plate 12f. Port 114f, by way of example and not limitation, may take the form of a 4'' internally threaded pipe coupling. Plug 115f may be removed during installation where the water table is high to allow an equalization of the internal and external water pressure to avoid floating of the well cellar 10f. The port 114f is equipped with a guard shield 116f attached to the exterior of wall 14f as by welding to reduce the ingress of fluid-borne solids during this stabilization process. Once the well cellar 10f is installed and welded to the conductor pipe, plug 115f can be inserted to seal off the flow of fluids through port 114f and the water removed from inside cellar 10f.

As seen in FIG. 9A, the top of the riser 24f has a scalloped edge 25f. Scalloped edge 25f or the exterior of conductor pipe 18f may be crimped to bring the two surfaces into closer proximity to facilitate welding or other forms of mechanical attachment. Welding is the preferred method of securing the two members and, by not having the weld lying in a single horizontal cross section, the chances of the weld holding up long term are significantly enhanced. Alternatively, another way of accomplishing the desired result is to bevel the top (FIG. 9B) of the riser 24g as at 25g.

Reverting to FIG. 9A, a first annular support 80f is provided for a work platform to enable maintenance, cleaning, and other types of work to be conducted on the well drilling/production equipment suspended from riser 18f. It is an additional feature of the well cellar 10f of this invention to provide a second annular support 82f welded to the inner surface of wall 14f at a level that is just above that which is established by OSHA as creating a confined space entry. By positioning the annular support 82f at this level, the restrictions associated with confined space entries are avoided.

Another feature of this eighth embodiment 10f is shown in FIG. 10 generally at 16f. In unsealed well cellars, it is conventional to have mouse holes or rat holes to afford a place for auxiliary well drilling and completion tools to go. With the advent of the sealed well cellar 10 of the present invention, it is necessary to provide a sealed opening for such equipment. If one or more additional holes 16f is formed in base plate 12f, each will need to be sealed. It is proposed that such holes 16f each be provided with a riser section 124f with external threads 125f at the top. Riser section 124f is canted relative to base plate 12f. An elastomeric gasket 127f can be compressed between upper beveled surface 126f of riser section 124f and the internal bottom surface of hammer nut 128f. Compressed gasket 127f will fill all the space between the riser section 124f and conductor pipe 18f. Although the auxiliary hole(s) has/have been depicted as through the base plate 12f, it will be appreciated that the hole(s) could be through side wall 14f without departing from the scope of the invention.

A ninth embodiment is depicted generally at 10g in FIG. 11. A housing 130g is provided for the sacrificial anode 150g. Housing 130g is provided with a removable lid 132g to allow anode 150g to be inspected and replaced as necessary. Housing 130g is provided with a series of holes 134g to enhance access between the anode 150g and the electrolyte provided to facilitate the reaction. An anode connection 152g attaches the anode 150g to the wall 12g by a wire 155g.

A tenth embodiment is depicted in FIG. 12B generally at 10h. While it is preferred to manufacture the sealed well cellar of the present invention from metallic or plastic materials, it is appreciated that the features of the present invention could be achieved using a poured concrete embodiment. An important component of is shown in FIG. 12A generally at 160h. Cementing template 160h provides the cement cellar 10h with sufficient strength and integrity to prevent cracking which, if it occurred, would immediately defeat the sealing of the cellar. Cementing template comprises a first outer cement retainer 162h and a second inner cement retainer 164h. A rebar grid is constructed of radial spoke members 166h extending from riser section 24h which are interconnected by welding thereto one or more annular reinforcement rebar members 167h. The ends of spoke members 166h are welded to riser 24h. A pair of baffles 126h are welded about the periphery of riser section 24h. These baffles 126h help reduce the chance of the creation of a fluid flow path around the periphery of riser section 24h. Outer cement retainer 162h and inner cement retainer 164h form a pocket 168h which receive a bottom peripheral edge 182h of a galvanized corrugated culvert pipe 180h.

In constructing a concrete version of sealed well cellar 10h, a hole would be excavated and the bottom graded to level it out. Some gravel and/or sand would be placed in the hole and tamped to form a bottom surface 111h suitable for supporting poured cement. Then, cement template 160h would be placed in the hole with riser section 24h surrounding conductor pipe 18h. Riser section 24h is welded to conductor pipe 18h. Culvert pipe 180h would be situated in pocket 168h. At least one and preferably two gaskets 112h would be stuffed around the lower edge 182h of culvert 180h to fill any possible flow path skirting that lower edge. Concrete would then be poured into the pocket 168h and onto the bottom surface 111h to create a cementaceous bottom 184h sealed against the culvert 180h. Inwardly directed lip 163h of first outer retainer 162h and embedded outwardly directed lip 165h on second inner retainer 164h prevent cement floor 184h from heaving since cement does not bond particularly well to metal.

Various changes, alternatives and modifications will become apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art following a reading of the foregoing specification. It is intended that any such changes, alternatives and modifications as fall within the scope of the appended claims be considered part of the present invention.

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